There are many examples of confession in the Bible, but since God forgave us, why do we still need to confess our sins?
God tells all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), and Jesus specifically said we must repent and believe (Mark 1:15), but where does confession fit in? The Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), but if we confess our sins to God, then we must also confess Christ to others. In this way, Christ will not deny us before the Father. That’s important because John writes, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23), so “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:2). This also means that “every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:3), so we can say with authority, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels” (Rev 3:5), meaning that “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15). The beginning point is repentance and faith, for that is the very essence of the gospel that Jesus brought (Mark 1:15). He came to give His life as a ransom for the many who would trust in Him (Mark 10:45), and those same will confess Christ publically.
All Have Sinned
If you are not saved, you might wonder, “Saved from what?” Sin, precisely. What is sin? It is the transgression of God’s Law (1 John 3:4), but the Law also shows us what sin is (Rom 7:7). Ignorance of God’s Law, just like human law, is no excuse. You may not believe it has a bearing on you, but what you believe doesn’t change what is true. Of course, no one is saved by keeping the Law (Eph 2:8-9), but the saved person will strive to obey God, although like everyone else, they will not do it perfectly. We all fall infinitely short of God’s glory. The Apostle Paul rightly said, “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom3:10), which means, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom 3:12), and to remove all doubt about the sinful state of humanity, Paul again says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). “All” means all, and there are no exceptions. That’s why Paul writes, “No…not even one!” Jesus alone was sinless.
If you’ve repented and put your trust in Christ, that means you’ve confessed your sins to God. It also means you’ve been forgiven. Now, the Spirit of God lives in you and when you sin, you should desire to repent of it immediately and confess it to God. To live day by day with unconfessed sin is to bring misery to the believer, because it grieves the Holy Spirit. To not continue to confess our sins to God would be like being married and never apologizing or admitting your sins or mistakes when you make them. It’s not a matter of if, but when you make a mistake, but if you don’t apologize and confess your faults in your marriage, it will surely strain your relationship. And it won’t do your fellowship any good, that’s for sure. Of course, you’ll still have that relationship, but it won’t be as loving. Everyone makes mistakes, so everyone should admit them. You’re walking on thin ice if you think, “Since I’m married, I don’t need to ask for his/her forgiveness.” I can tell you from experience that this doesn’t work well in a marriage or a relationship or a friendship.
Confession and Healing
If you’ve ever worked at a job without ever admitting a mistake, I doubt you’d have many friends there. Even in our personal relationships with family and our closest friends, it’s good to confess our sins and faults. I don’t mean every single sin, but James tells us, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). I believe we can be healed of our various sins and addictions if we ask for the prayers of the saints. This may be why the very next thing James writes is, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Working in whom? It is working in the ones for whom we are praying for. I have many I pray for in their battle to overcome pornography, and many have overcome this, but it wasn’t my power or other’s power that did this, but the power of God unleashed by the prayers of the saints. Step one for many of these men is “to confess our sins and faults to others.” Step one is to “pray for one another.” Some strongholds you cannot battle in isolation as easily as others. Prayer does have great power. I’ve seen it working, but rarely in isolation.
Prayer of Repentance
Psalm 51 may be the greatest prayer of repentance and confession in the Bible. In it, David admits his guilt before God and asks of God to “blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1c-2). He admitted that “my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (v 3), so David prays to God, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v 7). Not only did he ask God to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (v 10), but he also asked God to “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (v 12). Confession is good for the soul, but it’s also good for the mind too because you can have “the joy of your salvation” returned after a cleansing. Nothing much feels better than a clean heart. That’s why it’s best to keep short accounts with God. We can confess it immediately and move on and try to avoid the same situation or place the next time. David wanted his joy back so he could “teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (v 13b), saying, “my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness” (v 14c).
Since the Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, it would be wonderful if the same all would repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15), but that is not the case since Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). Who are the chosen? I have no clue. I only know we are to confess Christ to others. This means we are not silent about our faith, but neither do we cram it down people’s throat. No one I know of was ever argued into heaven. Rather, it is as Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.